Paprika ★★★★½

"I bet you've never thought about it, but the internet and dreams are similar. They're areas where the repressed conscious mind escapes."

In Paprika, a team of scientists have created a device that allows them to not only enter someone's dreams but also record them. One of the main users of this ability is the red haired Paprika, a perky, positive, and persistent dream therapist. When the prototypes for the smaller version of the dream machine are stolen - prototypes that don't have the safeguards in place that would keep people from hacking into the dreamers' brains - the seemingly straitlaced Dr. Chiba, the childlike and quite tubby genius Tokita, and overworked detective Konakawa have to get to the bottom of it before everybody involved in the production are driven mad, or the dreams of a megalomaniac are used for mass terrorism.

While the story sounds like it is ripe to just be a bunch of random cool scenes thrown together and handwaved as "like, surreal maaannn" it isn't. So much of what happens is foreshadowed and hinted at throughout the early parts of the film, including the often talked about trope defying romance, that when everything wraps up it takes the intricate plot and puts it away quite nicely. This is a complicated movie, sure, but it is not really as difficult to understand as many - mainly the film's few oddly vocal detractors - make it out to be. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes an elaborate toy parade is just an elaborate toy parade. And sometimes it is steeped in oodles of psychological, referential, or mythological symbolism. Paprika lets you have your cake and eat it too in that regard.

Paprika is a smart movie with a great story, but the smartest thing it does is enable so many opportunities to just let reality melt away and give you some of the most gorgeous animation this side of Ghibli. This is one of Madhouse's most seminal works for a reason, and the lush and well animated dream scenes are only rivaled by the colorful fluidity of every other scene in the entire movie.

Honestly, there isn't an aspect of Paprika that doesn't work. The voice actors are great from top to bottom, and that includes the dub. The soundtrack is phenomenal. The whole movie figures out the perfect balance between lighthearted and heavyshit. I can't gush about Paprika enough. Satoshi Kon was a genius. Suck it Inception.

WATCH if you like being constantly oppressed by film. DON'T WATCH if you are with the same group of friends who wanted to go see Pixels.